Downtime losses take heavy toll on SMEs

Over 80% of small and mid-sized businesses are taking up to half a day to fix IT problems that result in downtime.

Over 80% of small and mid-sized businesses are taking up to half a day to fix IT problems that result in downtime.

In a survey of 450 UK small and mid-sized enterprises, conducted by market research analyst Vanson Bourne and commissioned by Microsoft, 66% of respondents said they had experienced significant technology downtime in the last two years. Nearly two-thirds of those asked admitted they suffered an IT failure at least once every three months.

The IT managers, business owners and partners surveyed said their costs from infrastructure downtime came from wasted man hours, lost sales, reduced customer satisfaction, costs of fixing the problem, and lost opportunity costs from having to spend valuable time fixing technology. Eighteen per cent calculated that they lose between five and 20 man-hours a year from downtime.

According to the British Chambers of Commerce there are nearly four million small to medium businesses in the UK, each of them almost totally reliant on technology for their survival to some extent or other.

Kevin Withnall, director at Vanson Bourne, said, "There is a disconnect between the value [businesses] apply to technology and the support they have put into place to make sure it works 24x7."

David Frost, director-general of the British Chambers of Commerce said, "Our advice to all of our members is to ensure they have an appropriate level of cover, either through internal resources or using an external company. That way, if something goes wrong, they can have the reassurance of knowing that they can be back up as quickly as possible minimising the damage to their business."

Surprisingly, the research also found that only a fifth of companies use a third party to support or back up their IT in case the technology fails, even though 88% recognise their businesses could not operate without IT.

The survey was carried out for Microsoft Services to promote an existing service called Essential Support.

Read more on IT for small and medium-sized enterprises (SME)

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